Monthly case histories about the real guardianship experience
Guardianship Spotlight:
Florence Cooper, FSGA Member
How I Became Involved in Guardianship
Florence Cooper, FSGA

My mother came down to Highland County to be close to me. She was able to buy  her own house and have her independence but after a short time here she called me in tears, saying she had gotten lost driving around. In addition she started to be forgetful and wouldn't calculate her checking account correctly. We had to take the car away from her and I took her to an attorney to see what he would recommend. He suggested that she move to an assisted living facility. However, shortly after she moved in, we started to formally evaluate her and saw that we needed to start the guardianship process, with me as the guardian.

As I was taking care of her, the attorney who helped us asked if we wanted to meet a lady who was "a lot like my mother" and had been taken advantage of. I became her guardian as well. Today, I have been a guardian for fifteen years and handle more than twenty cases, n inety percent of which are pro bono.

My husband asked me what I will do for a vacation and benefits. I looked at him and said "You are it."

If you are becoming a guardian to make a living, you are in the profession for the wrong reasons.
"One of the worst cases of blatant exploitation"

A daughter got in touch with her attorney, concerned about exploitation of her father by a caregiver. In just a couple of weeks after being hired sight unseen, the caregiver had coerced the father into giving her an $800.00 loan.

It would get much worse.

A few weeks later the father backed his golf cart into the caregiver's car, denting the fender. She took him to a used car lot where she convinced him to buy a 2011 BMW SUV.

In just a few weeks he would suddenly possess seven new credit cards, buy a house, trade his paid off Cadillac for a new van and buy the caregiver yet another car.

Then the caregiver convinced him to name her as a beneficiary, with her adopted son as the Payable on Death beneficiary.

The victim's daughter and niece attempted numerous times to put a stop to this progressive nightmare, but the caregiver kept telling him that they just wanted to take her money and keep her away from him.

The daughter ws able to have me appointed as the father's Emergency Temporary Guardian while the caregiver was being investigated. That inquiry revealed that medical reports from four years earlier said that the father suffered from extreme dementia and was not able to make good judgment calls or remember things as he should. While declaring the father incompetent, the judge found that this was one of the worst cases of blatant exploitation she had ever seen.

As I began to handle the father's affairs the caregiver couldn't help but attempt another bold move. Even while under investigation she managed to get an amicable divorce from her forth husband and the very next day took the father to Georgia and married him. She thought that would prevent her from having to give a deposition as the case against her was building.

As of today, the victim has passed away and charges have been filed against the caregiver by the daughter. A trial is scheduled for later in the year.

Looking back, it's sad that we were not able to finally pry the abuser away from the victim so that at leaast the daughter could say to him, "I love you."

The caregiver now refers to me as a witch on a broom. In this case, I'll take that as a compliment.
What question do I get asked the most?

"How do you make a living as a guardian?"

When people ask this, they don't understand what is involved and that you don't get paid by the hour. I tell them that if making a lot of money is what you want, you are looking at the wrong profession. Guardianship is about making life safer and more secure for those who have incapacity issues and making things better during the time they have left.
What is a good tip for those selecting a guardian?
Light Bulb

Look for someone who really cares about your family member, who will fight for their rights, protection and well-being. During the interview process, see if you click. Talk with family if any, and to those who have been involved with the person to see the best way to approach them.. Meet with that person and get familiar with them, helping to make the transition as smooth as possible for all involved. Talk to facilities, too.

Hopefully you will find someone who is going to be like an angel to the ward, but if necessary, can turn around and be that witch on a broom to anyone who might abuse them! 

- Flo
We hope these articles are informative for you. Please keep in mind  that some of the views expressed are not necessarily the opinions or  philosophies of other FSGA members. We recommend hiring a guardian  that is a good fit for you.
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